Plettenberg Bay, South Africa 21 June – 30 June 2024

A Walkabout with the African Black Oystercatcher

Factors influencing their density and distribution in the southern Cape

The population density and distribution of African Black Oystercatchers along 1000 km of coastline between Hermanus and Cape Recife fluctuates between one pair per 2000 m to one pair every 135 m. The factors that influence this density variation include food type, aspect of the intertidal substrate and the geology in the intertidal zone. Other factors influencing population density include proximity to parking areas and the open / closed state of blind estuaries. Mark Dixon brings a wealth of information on these beautiful winged creatures which walk about on our beaches and rocks.


Mark founded the Strandloper Project, a volunteer citizen science organization, in January 2018 to clean up snagged recreational fishing tackle from the reef at Gericke’s Point. As a former CCAMLR Scientific observer on long liner fishing vessels in the Ross Sea, Mark realised that the reef clean-ups offered an opportunity to study the impact of ghost fishing, lead poisoning and entanglements caused by recreational fishing. Continued reef surveys inspired the expansion of surveys and associated factors that influence inshore reef biodiversity. In 2019 he initiated a series of coastal research expeditions, hiking in stages between Hermanus and Cape Recife to map the density and distribution of ocean plastic pollution and fishing debris (ALDFG) along the shoreline. A passionate naturalist, Mark has a diverse range of environmental interests and is an active field researcher in ornithology, marine science and Ichnology (study of fossil footprints). Steadfast in the principle that a better understanding of the environment and wildlife requires diligent observations, he utilises a range of technology to document wildlife behaviour and habitat conditions in all the Strandloper Project marine based research programmes. A resident of the Garden Route for 30 years, Mark believes that it is incumbent on the public to both monitor and compile environmental baseline studies to guide future urban and agricultural developments in the region.

This event takes place on:

Saturday 22 June

10:00 - 10:25